By Terri Eyden
Six individuals have been charged with conspiring to defraud the United States in filing false tax returns. The grand jury's fifty-four-count indictment also charges each defendant with filing and/or aiding others in filing false claims. The announcement of the charges by Pamela C. Marsh, US Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, follows the arraignment of the last two defendants on May 29.
Blaine Johnston of Marianna; Hector A. Cabrera, Diana Gonzalez, and Wilfredo Rodriguez, all of Miami; and Angel Done and Wilson Calle, both of New York, are alleged to have conspired together to defraud the United States by obtaining fraudulent tax refunds by filing, or assisting others in filing, false federal income tax returns.
The indictment charges that between 2008 and 2009, members of the group prepared and filed, or assisted others in doing so, fraudulent returns seeking more than $18 million in tax refunds. The indictment further alleges that these returns falsely reported that the defendants' and/or their clients' creditors had withheld large amounts of federal income taxes and paid this money over to the IRS. As a result of fraudulently overstating the income tax withheld, the tax returns claimed large tax refunds to which the defendants and their clients were not entitled.
Trial is currently scheduled for July 23, 2012. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison for conspiracy and five years on each count of filing, and/or aiding others in filing, false claims.
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Source: US Department of Justice